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Characteristics of plasma plume in ultrafast laser ablation with a weakly ionized air channel.


We report the influence of femtosecond (fs) laser weakly ionized air channel on characteristics of plasma induced from fs-laser ablation of solid Zr metal target. A novel method to create high temperature, low electron density plasma with intense elemental emission and weak bremsstrahlung emission was demonstrated. Weakly ionized air channel was generated as a result of a non-linear phenomenon. Two-dimensional time-resolved optical-emission images of plasma plumes were taken for plume dynamics analysis. Dynamic physical properties of filament channels were simulated. In particular, we investigated the influence of weakly ionized air channel on the evolution of solid plasma plume. Plasma plume splitting was observed whilst longer weakly ionized air channel formed above the ablation spot. The domination mechanism for splitting is attributed to the long-lived underdense channel created by fs-laser induced weakly ionization of air. The evolutions of atomic/molecular emission intensity, peak broadening, and plasma temperature were analyzed, and the results show that the part of plasma entering weakly ionized air channel features higher initial temperature, lower electron density and faster decay.

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